Much like Willy Wonka, there’s a chocolate factory in North Portland that offers tours your family won’t soon forget. Creo Chocolate makes irresistible candy and gives eager customers a behind-the-scenes peek at how all of their chocolatey magic happens. So for a real-life Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience, book it over to Creo Chocolates to learn how chocolate is made. There’s even a surprise at the end of the tour…let’s just say: it’s sweet.

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The Shop
From brewed cacao and hot chocolate to small batches and bars, Creo offers something for every chocolate lover in the family. A bean-to-bar shop that boasts roasting, cracking, grinding, tempering, molding and packaging their own product, Creo gets its beans from a hand-picked family owned farm in the tropics that works directly with them to create unique flavors that bring back customers again and again.

Some of the littlest members of your family may be too young to make it through a behind-the-scenes peek at how sweets are made, but the tours aren’t the only reason to visit the shop. The warm, inviting environment and friendly staff welcome chocolate fanatics of all ages and your kids will love noshing on their chocolate chip cookies, brownies or any other numbers of goodies while you wash your own down with a pumpkin spice mocha! Creo offers a number of seasonal treats and drinks that provide a perfect way to get toasty and perk up after a crisp fall or winter day.

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The Tours
Creo offers a Chocolate Factory Tour, a Make-a-Bar Tour and Chocolate 101 class. Both the Factory and Make-a-Bar tour are perfect for families with children ages 8 and up and provide kids and parents alike with an educational and tasty learning experience. The Chocolate 101 class is for adults only.

Chocolate Factory Tour
You will learn everything you could possibly imagine there is to know about chocolate and more on this in-depth factory tour. It lasts approximately 30 minutes and takes you on an adventure to the cocoa farm in Hacienda Limon, Los Rios, Ecuador where the cacao that is used to in the creation of Creo’s specialty chocolates is grown. Your little cook will find out all about the cacao pod, how it appears after it has ripened and what happens during the fermentation process. Then you will follow the cacao bean through the drying, shipping, storage, sorting and roasting process.

Participants can expect the half hour to be packed with hands-on experiences that allow them to see, touch and smell the bean as it is broken, put through the winnower, ground down to molten chocolate and then aerated in the conche until the perfect flavor is achieved.

You will have plenty of time to ask all of the questions that pop up along the way, and your kids will love venturing behind the counters and into the back rooms where the machinery will captivate their imaginations. All in attendance will be required to wear coverings over their feet and hair nets.

Cost: Free
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Ages: 8 & up
Online: creochocolate.com/classes/

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Make-a-Bar Tour
The name Creo means “to create,” and create you will as you join the staff for on this tour. It includes all of the information and hands-on experiences from the Chocolate Factory Tour and you  get a chance to come up with your unique version of the chocolate bar and then create it with your own two hands. You even get to design the label and package your bar like a pro!

Cost: $15
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Ages: 8 & up
Online: creochocolate.com/classes/

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Chocolate 101
Looking for a fun and educational date night out? Or how about something fun to do on girls, boys or couples night out? Creo offers this fun and informational two-hour course that is as interactive as it is informative. You not only learn about how cacao is grown and processed, you get to get your hand dirty by prepping, cracking and winnowing cacao beans. These classes book fast so plan ahead!

Cost: $50
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Ages: adult only
Online: creochocolate.com/classes/

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The Gift of Chocolate
With the holidays right around the corner, we couldn’t help but notice Creo’s great options for gift giving. If you are hitting up the shop for an afternoon mocha or attending one of their tours, consider checking out some of their cool gift options as well. From tasty treats like roasted cacoa beans, sipping chocolate, chocolate bars, and roasted cacao nib to chocolate mint lip balm, chocolate candles, Creo mugs and more. There is something for everyone on Santa’s list this year.

Online: creaochocolate.com/products/

Location: 121 NE Broadway, Portland, Or
Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Online: creochocoate.com

What is your family’s favorite chocolate treat? Share it with us in the comments below.

—copy and photos by Annette Benedetti